Former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden succeeded where President Barack Obama couldn’t — getting Microsoft Corp., Google Inc. and Yahoo! Inc. to upgrade computer security against hackers.
The companies are adopting harder-to-crack regulation to protect their data and networks after years of largely rebuffing calls from the White House and privacy advocates to upgrade security.
“These companies actively fought against numerous mechanisms that would have mandated far more secure data,” Sascha Meinrath, director of the Open Technology Institute at the New America Foundation in Washington, noted in a phone interview. “Now they are paying the literal price.”
Microsoft’s networks and services were allegedly hacked by the NSA, the Washington Post reported on Nov. 26.
Documents revealed by Snowden suggest, but don’t prove, that the NSA targeted Microsoft’s Hotmail and Windows Live Messenger services under a program called MUSCULAR, the report said.
Reports about the spy programs has “great potential for doing serious damage to the competitiveness” of U.S. companies, Richard Salgado, Google’s director for law enforcement and information security, told a U.S. Senate panel on Nov. 13.
Revelations of NSA espionage might cost the U.S. cloud industry as much as $35 billion by 2016, according to the Information Technology Industry Council and the Software Information Industry Association, said reports.